CPAP machines are often used to help treat breathing problems such as obstructive sleep apnea. While these machines are effective at providing relief for breathing issues, they need to be cleaned regularly in order to continue working properly. So what is the best way to clean a CPAP machine mask?
When you first receive a CPAP machine, you may receive a long list of instructions and advice from your doctor or sleep specialist. While learning how to use the machine, it can be easy to overlook the basics of cleaning and maintaining the equipment.
Luckily, cleaning a CPAP machine is not difficult. While there are several parts that need to be cleaned, daily cleaning should not take more than a few minutes. If you want to know the best way to clean a CPAP machine, use the following steps.
Why Do You Need to Clean Your CPAP Machine?
When you use a CPAP machine, you are receiving filtered air that is circulated through the machine. Without regular cleaning, you may expose yourself to harmful mold, bacteria, and allergens.
Cleaning is also essential for maintaining the equipment and parts of the CPAP machine. Dirt, moisture, and other debris can result in premature equipment failure. You can even void the warranty on the machine.
How Often Should You Clean Your CPAP Machine?
Most of the cleaning steps that you should follow need to be completed daily for optimal results. However, there are a few steps that are only necessary to follow once per week. While the amount of cleaning may seem excessive, regular cleaning will prevent the need for a more thorough cleaning job.
When you maintain the various parts and tubing, the cleaning process can become a quick task. By completing these steps as directed, you can easily make the daily cleaning a part of your normal morning routine.
Getting Started with the CPAP Cleaning
There are several different components that will need to be cleaned separately. The main items that you need to regularly clean or inspect include the following:
- The CPAP humidifier
- The mask
- The filter
- The hoses
You do not need to frequently clean the CPAP machine itself. However, you may want to dust it occasionally with a damp cloth. This will prevent dirt from accumulating on it.
Cleaning the CPAP Humidifier
Most CPAP machines are equipped with a humidifier to help prevent your mouth from drying out overnight. With the CPAP machine connected, you receive a continual stream of air to help keep your airway open and free of obstructions. However, this can also easily dry out your mouth, especially if you live in a dry region.
The humidifier addresses this problem, while also creating a new problem. The moisture from the humidifier increases the risk of mold and bacteria growth.
The humidifier chamber or water tank should be cleaned each morning. When cleaning the chamber, remove it from the CPAP machine to prevent moisture from getting inside the machine.
Thoroughly wash the inside of the chamber with warm water and a small amount of dish detergent. After cleaning the inside and outside of the chamber, rinse it clean. Allow it to completely dry by placing it on a clean towel or paper towel.
Daily cleaning should help prevent the buildup of calcium and the growth of bacteria or mold. However, you should also soak the chamber once per week to give it a more thorough cleaning. Soak it in a solution containing 1 cup of white vinegar for every 3 cups of water. Soak it for about 20 minutes before rinsing it clean and allowing it to dry.
Even with this regular cleaning, the manufacturer may recommend that you replace the chamber every six months. Some of these chambers are made from plastic materials that are intended for continual reuse and which may slowly break down with repeated cleaning. If replacement is recommended, it is best to follow the recommendations.
While you are waiting for the chamber to dry, you can move on to the next cleaning task. This will help save time and encourage you to continue cleaning your equipment each day.
Cleaning the CPAP Machine Mask
The next part to clean is the mask. The mask is an essential part of the CPAP machine. As it is in direct contact with your mouth, you also want to ensure that it is completely clean before wearing it each night.
CPAP masks are typically made from a silicone material. The silicone is soft, flexible, and the perfect material for creating a comfortable mask. However, the silicone can also break down quickly, especially if you avoid cleaning it regularly.
You can purchase wipes and detergents designed specifically for cleaning CPAP masks. While these wipes and detergents may offer an effective way to kill bacteria on the mask, they may not be necessary.
To protect the mask, clean it daily using warm water and mild soap. After washing the mask with water and soap, rinse it clean using distilled water. Just like the chamber, you should place the mask on a dry towel or paper towel to allow it to dry completely.
You should also soak the mask once per week to give it a more thorough cleaning. You can use the same method used for soaking the chamber.
Like the chamber, manufacturers also recommend that you replace the mask occasionally. Typically, the cushions on the mask will need to be replaced every month, while the mask itself should be replaced every three to six months.
Cleaning and Replacing CPAP Filters
CPAP machines also include filters. As the machine continuously delivers pressurized air through your airways, it filters the air to ensure that it’s free of bacteria and harmful particles. These particles get trapped by the filter, which will need occasional cleaning or replacement, depending on the type of filter.
The filters are typically found on the back of CPAP machines. Most CPAP machines include a white paper filter. This filter is disposable and should be replaced every month.
Some machines are equipped with a second filter to help remove more contaminants from that air that you breathe each night. These filters are typically grey and washable.
The non-disposable grey filter should be washed once per week. However, you may need to clean it more frequently if you are a smoker or a pet owner.
To clean the filter, simply rinse it clean in your sink to remove any debris. Allow it dry completely before placing it back in the CPAP machine. The grey filter should be replaced every six months. However, if it begins to look worn, you may need to replace it sooner.
Cleaning the Accessories and Parts
Besides the chamber, mask, and filters, there are a few other parts that need regular cleaning. The headgear, chin straps, and tubing all need cleaning to prevent bacteria and other substances from accumulating and creating a health risk.
The headgear and chin strap can be washed by hand using warm water and soap. While these items may not need daily cleaning, you may want to clean them about once per week. Allow these parts to air dry by placing them on a clean towel or paper towel.
The tubing should also get cleaned at least once per week. The best way to clean the tubing is to soak it in a sanitized plastic tub with warm water and soap. After washing it, thoroughly rinse the tubes and hang them from a clean object to air dry.
Additional CPAP Cleaning and Maintenance Tips
Along with the steps discussed, there are a few additional tips that you may want to follow to protect your CPAP machine from damage and ensure that it continues to work properly.
You should always use distilled water to clean these components. Tap water can contain heavy metals, including iron and magnesium, which may increase the risk of corrosion on metal components. It may also contain chemicals that can damage the CPAP machine. Distilled water should be used to both wash and rinse the parts.
When cleaning the parts, do not use bleach. Bleach can be harmful to your health and may damage some of the parts. If you continue to clean these parts regularly, there should be no need to use bleach or any other heavy-duty cleaning products.
You may also want to follow the same cleaning routine each day. If you start by cleaning the humidifier, always begin with the chamber. This will help keep you from skipping one of the steps.
Items that need to be cleaned weekly should be cleaned on the same day, to make it easier to remember the weekly cleaning. The headgear, chin straps, tubing, and non-disposable filter should be cleaned once per week, while the chamber and mask should be soaked once per week.
As a final suggestion, make sure that you read the manufacturer’s instructions for your specific CPAP machine. These machines are not all designed the same way. Your machine may have additional components or require specific cleaning steps.
If you keep up with the cleaning, you can rest easy knowing that your CPAP machine is continuing to improve your health, instead of creating a breeding ground for mold and bacteria.